Eric Wynalda while coaching Atlanta
Courtesy of Carolina RailHawks

Eric Wynalda steps down as Atlanta Silverbacks head coach, remains technical director

It was fun while it lasted.

After nearly six months in an unorthodox role that allowed him to split time between Southern California and Atlanta, Eric Wynalda has relinquished his head coaching role with NASL's Silverbacks.

The former US national team and MLS striker will coach his final game for the club on Saturday as Atlanta face FC Edmonton at home. He will continue as technical director, while Jason Smith, the Silverbacks' head coach from 2005-08, takes over on the sideline.

The deciding factor, according to Wynalda, was a twist in his work schedule with Fox Sports.

“When we sat down at the beginning of the season, we came up with a plan and a schedule that would have worked, but my role with FOX changed dramatically and that was an unforeseen change,” Wynalda said in a press release. “During Champions League and FA Cup, it went from commuting from LA to commuting from Europe, and it made things very difficult.

"We were trying to do the best we could under the circumstances, but with the high probability of future schedule changes, I decided that it was unfair to put the club through any further instability.”

Wynalda landed the job back in January when the club decided to eliminate the head coaching position and install Wynalda, the club's technical director, as the new boss. The only problem was that he lived in Los Angeles and worked for Fox Sports.

The two sides came to an agreement in which Wynalda would commute to Atlanta for matches and "key practices," while  a group of hand-selected assistants guided the team through training and recovery sessions.

The team finished the NASL's spring season in eighth place and began the fall season with a 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

“My love for this club will never stop. Just because I won’t be in Atlanta as much as I used to be, I will continue to work extremely hard to make sure that the team heads in a successful direction,” Wynalda said. “Whether it is through scouting, consulting, guidance, or helping the coaches find the right direction and philosophy, I’ll be doing everything I can to ensure that this team accomplishes what it wants to down the road.”

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